Mistletoe Shortage Puts a Premium on Christmas Kisses

MistletoeHoliday kissers might need to dig a little deeper this year in their search for the perfect love talisman. As The New York Times reports, a Texas drought has devastated the mistletoe business, wiping out up to 70% of plants. Amid record low harvests, the few scraps that have made their way to market have been spindly and unattractive, the sort of sketchy sprig that nobody wants to be caught dead hanging around under--much less shell out $5 for.

Kissing under the mistletoeKissing under the mistletoe is one of the oldest Christmas traditions; the earliest written mention of the practice dates back to the 1500's, but historians believe that people may have been puckering up under the plant for at least a thousand more years. According to legend, St. Nicholas met his wife under a branch of the parasitic plant, but that little bit of lore was likely just an attempt to integrate older beliefs. Mistletoe weaves through old Norse religions, where its white berries represented the male essence. For that matter, the ancient Greeks and Druids also revered the plant, and Celtic farmers were convinced that it was a fertility cure.

But whether we kiss under the mistletoe because of St. Nick, because the Celts used it to get their cows pregnant, or because the Norse god Hoor killed the Norse god Baldr with a mistletoe sword, the simple fact is that, for some Christmas celebrants, the bright green leaves and waxy white berries symbolize the mischievous side of the season. Then again, as one florist rather grinchily noted, we no longer need a holiday justification for kissing in public. But for those who hold with tradition, a kiss under the mistletoe isn't just a hastily-sneaked snog: it's a bit of holiday celebration, albeit one that comes with an ever-growing price tag!

Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

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I find it very hard to believe there is a mistletoe shortage this year. Mistletoe is everywhere. Who writes these false articles?

December 26 2011 at 6:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

So Texas is the only place the produces mistletoe for sale? It's all over West Tennessee right now, I was noticing it seems much more common than usual this year.

December 26 2011 at 1:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Allie's comment

It's all over east Tennessee too!

December 26 2011 at 9:10 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and our oaks are covered in the stuff..come get it all and our poor trees would have a chance of life

December 25 2011 at 10:32 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This is really hard to believe. I have seen enormous damage by mistletoe in Austria and the Grand Canyon (mistletoe is a parasitic plant) and found it common east of the Salinas Valley in California.

December 25 2011 at 8:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Too many people hanging mistle toe off there back belt loops this year ? lol

December 25 2011 at 5:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL...............even the lunatic left.

December 25 2011 at 4:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

If the Wall Street speculators hear about this the price of oil will skyrocket tomorrow morning and the price of gasoline and diesel will double by noon.

December 25 2011 at 4:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am an old born and raised Texan and the picture of mistletoe is a joke. Mistletoe grows as a parasite on mainly oak trees . We had one of the worst droughts in my over 60 years here in Texas and beleive me there is just as much mistletoe as there ever was. We had some trees to die , but most were imported to this area and were not native trees and they died. Most of the spruce and other Christmas type trees couldn't take the heat and lack of water. If I had know people in NYC would have paid $5.00 a sprig I would have shipped a train load of the stuff up there.

December 25 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Danny's comment

Sorry but there's lots of mistletoe growing on maple trees here in Tennessee

December 26 2011 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have a parasitic growth on low branch of evergreen treen but it lost its foliage before winter. can anyone help me with this id of plant?

December 25 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was always the only time to sneak a kiss from those who would other wise be forbidden to kiss in public, such as a married woman .

December 25 2011 at 3:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply